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Tasmania Tour Report - October 2009

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12 intrepid 41er's flew into Launceston mid October and set forth in a Toyota Hi Ace Commuter van from our friendly "Budget" people to explore as much as we could in 16 days.

First thing we learned was it had only a 2.6 Litre Petrol Engine, not the diesel I had booked, however apart from struggling to get going and stalling for me many times (which was noted with great glee by some of the travellers) once on the way with its heavy load of passengers and towing our luggage trailer it really did very well.

We were met at the airport by some of the Launceston Apex 40 members to show us where to find our hotel, however our guide (the delightful Ron) thought we were staying in a different one and so we had a hilarious time getting the van and trailer turned round in a very tight space on a hillside before arriving at our one which also had access and turning problems!

Next day the Apex guys came and showed us around their lovely Tamar Valley; Cataract Gorge, Swiss Village for delicious scones cooked by Ron's better half Jan and coffee, Beaconsfield, Beauty Point out at the mouth of river where we had lots of fun, banner exchange and lunch with a good turnout of the local Apex 40 Club. We visited the Platypus and Echidna house before crossing over the Batman Bridge and travelling back on other side to Launceston.

Went to the Casino with some of the Apex gang for the cheap meals there that night and all of the ones who had a wee flutter actually won a bit each!!!

Left our good friends next morning and headed East, the long way round, stopped at Legerwood to see the sculptures carved from huge tree stumps then on to "The Pub in the Paddock" (it really is) for lunch then out to Binalong Bay and on to Bicheno (sounds like "bitch y know") for the night.

Explored Coles Bay, climbed the hill for the fabulous view over Wineglass Bay and worked our way south to Port Arthur where we stayed for 2 nights.

Did all the touristy things there, an amazing place but what a sad history of mans inhumanity towards man.

Onwards stopping at Richmond (old Georgian town), through Hobart and Huonville down to the Tahune Forest where most of us did the "Airwalk" above the trees in the rain, fabulous! Back to Hobart for 3 nights.

Had another great day doing the Bruny Island cruise, one of the best eco, adventure boat trips we have done, even the skipper and crew thanked us for making their day, can't help taking the mickey out of Aussies and they are the same!!!

Spent next day around Hobart, Salamanca market, damn I didn't win the raffle for a clinker sailing dingy made of Huon Pine.

Next we followed up the Derwent River visiting a Tasmanian Devil place and the amazing "Wall in the Wilderness" wood carvings (thanks once again folks for the book).

Note any of you going this way make sure you fill up with fuel at Tarraleah (Hydro Electric Centre, miles from anywhere in the highlands) cause it's a long way to the next pump but I didn't have to use my 11 pushers even though the warning light had been on for a long time!!

We were now in west coast country and yes it was raining before we arrived at Queenstown, not at all like our one, this is a mining town and looks it.

Next day was "the West Coast Wilderness Railway" trip to Strahan, another must do.

A "Rack and Pinion" railway system built to carry copper out through rain forest on very steep grades, 100 plus year old steam engines still the only ones able to do it!

Strahan, about half way up the west Coast on the huge Macquarie Harbour, fabulous place and the Gordon River Cruise another great day, stopped at Sarah Island, the hell hole prison where they built ships, eerie place then on up the Gordon River where the mighty Huon Pines came from.

North east up to Cradle Mountain, one of Tasmania's highest, 2 nights, great National Park, beautiful scenery, lots of wildlife and delightful Dove Lake, some of us walked round it and all of us felt our legs were considerably shorter with all the walking on excellent tracks.

Van was covered in frost first morning here, it is high altitude!!!

Called into Gunn's Forestry, they have the biggest eucalypt plantings in Tassie, for morning tea and talk, thanks Garry for your cousin's hospitality.

Up to Stanley (not Thorne) on the North West corner then we followed the coast back to Port Sorell to be met by Devonport Apex 40 Club who hosted us for the night. Dinner parties, drinks, much talk as always with lovely folk indeed, pity we couldn't have stayed a little longer.

Took us to see their area next day and we all had lunch at Village of Lower Crackpot before setting off back to Launceston for night and flying home in morning.

Memories of Tassie; winding, narrow, up and down roads (takes longer to get there than here in NZ), great ever changing scenery, not like New Zealand, amazing history, lovely old buildings, weird wildlife, great beer, back seat drivers (you're taking another short cut Johns), friendly people everywhere, especially our new friends in Apex40 and above all a great group to take 1900 kms around Tasmania.

A great start to my term as Tour Leader and yes I would recommend a visit to Tassie to any of you, just yell and I'll send you the itinerary, might even take you!!

Derek Johns

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